Finnish diplomats were among its victims.. US officials confirm Israel’s use of the Pegasus program to enhance its national security
An investigation by the American New York Times said that Israel used the Pegasus spyware, which was produced by the Israeli NSO Group, as a tool of diplomacy.
The newspaper’s year-long investigation, which included interviews with US officials and security leaders, indicated that during the export licensing process, Israel had the final say on who the NSO Group could sell its spyware.
This has allowed Israel to make the company and its likes a central component of its national security strategy for years, using it to advance state interests around the world.
The investigation also reveals how sales of the Pegasus program played a hidden but crucial role in securing the support of Arab countries in the Israeli campaign against Iran and even in negotiating the Abraham Accords.
Spying on Finnish diplomats
On the other hand, the Finnish Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that the mobile phones of Finnish diplomats were spied on using the “Pegasus” cyber program.
“Now we can be clear, there were spyware in our phones,” the ministry’s head of information security, Matti Parvianen, told AFP.
The targeted mobile devices belonged to Finnish diplomats working abroad.
The ministry declined to comment on the number of targets or the identity of the cyber attacker.
“We have good speculation” about how long the diplomats have been spied on, Parvianen said, although he has stopped.
The ministry indicated that the diplomats’ phones carry information either general or at the lowest security classification, but added that “the information and its source may be confidential among diplomats.”
Pegasus can hack into the phone’s camera or microphone and get its data.
The program was at the center of a global espionage scandal last year, after the spread of a list of 50,000 parties that may have been spied on around the world, including journalists, political figures and human rights activists.
And the resignation of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Israeli “NSO” Group, which developed the “Pegasus” spyware program, was announced on Tuesday, in a move the company denied was related to the controversy surrounding it and its program.
And in early November, the United States included “NSO” on the list of companies that pose a threat to US national security.